Rackspace adds load balancing to cloud-based servers

With load balancing, customers can build high availability into cloud-based apps

Rackspace's cloud computing division is offering load-balancing tools to help customers distribute workloads across multiple servers, providing applications with higher availability.

Rackspace's cloud computing division is offering a load-balancing service to help customers distribute workloads across multiple servers, providing applications with higher availability.

Cloud Load Balancers, generally available this week, is interoperable with Rackspace's Cloud Servers and dedicated servers hosted in Rackspace data centers. The load-balancing service automatically "distributes workloads across multiple Cloud Servers to minimize response time and avoid server overload," according to Rackspace.

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In the absence of this feature, some customers have used third-party load-balancing software such as HAProxy, but such tools can be difficult to use and require deployment of additional servers, says Josh Odom, who leads product development for Rackspace's cloud platform.

"This lowers the barrier for customers who aren't nearly as technically sophisticated," he said.

Rackspace has been working on Load Balancers for about a year to make sure it's easy to install and manage while also allowing it to be highly configurable, Odom said. A beta period for some customers was started last November, and now that it's generally available the service comes with Rackspace's 99.99% service-level agreement.

"We're ready to open it up to the masses," Odom said. "We have customers who have been running Cloud Servers for a long period of time and are reaching capacity of what a single cloud server can do. This solution gives them the ability to grow their configuration and scale out horizontally."

Rackspace was slower in delivering load balancing than its rival Amazon, which already has the Elastic Load Balancing service for Elastic Compute Cloud.

Odom said Rackspace is trying to distinguish its load-balancing service from the competition by being more configurable and exposing advanced health-monitoring tools. Static IP addresses, support for multiple protocols and algorithms, and API and control panel access are among the offered features.

Load Balancers will cost $10.95 per month for each 100 concurrent connections, plus charges of 18 cents per gigabyte of outgoing bandwidth and 8 cents per gigabyte of inbound bandwidth. The beta program attracted a few hundred customers, with 600 load balancers in use.

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